The Dolphins host the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium and the storylines are surprisingly abundant for a matchup between teams with a combined 1-9 record. For one, Tim Tebow, the former University of Florida standout, will be making his first start of the season.
Then there's the Dolphins' "Gator Day" celebration, in which the team will celebrate the 2008 national championship that Tebow and Florida won inside Sun Life Stadium against Oklahoma. Of course, the Dolphins also stand a good chance to win their first game on Sunday.
After all, the Broncos haven't looked all that much better this season - if any better - than the winless Dolphins. Still, while those topics have created discussion inside the Dolphins' locker room, none has generated the amount of emotion as this one: Suck for Luck.
The Suck for Luck movement has taken hold of a frustrated, bitter Dolphins fan base. Those who support it are hoping the 0-5 Dolphins continue their losing ways so that they might be able to secure the top pick in the NFL Draft. Which, of course, they could use to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
The notion of tanking the season for a chance to draft Luck has been a popular topic, at least among Dolphins' fans, since the start of the season. Now it has come to the point that coach Tony Sparano and his players have been asked to comment on it.
As would be expected, Sparano expressed disgust earlier this week about the idea that a team would lose games to improve its draft position - and the idea that fans would support such a thing. Both linebacker Karlos Dansby and running back Reggie Bush also expressed disbelief that fans would be in favor of it.
Jason Taylor, meanwhile, might have had the harshest words for those who favor "Suck for Luck."
"Me even acknowledging it is kind of condoning the stupidity but it is what it is," Taylor said. "People are going to talk about it. I think (Luck) addressed it and said it was ridiculous. I'm going to say the same thing."
Taylor said the players would quit before being part of a plan to improve draft position through losing.
"There would be a revolt," Taylor said. "And Tony's just not that guy. Tony's never going to quit at anything. And I think he would quit before he let that happen. And to be honest, there would be no team to field on the field because everybody in that locker room would walk before we did that."
--As if things weren't bad enough for the Miami Dolphins amid their 0-5 start, now there's this: Three starters sat out practice on Wednesday with injuries. Reggie Bush was suffering from a groin injury, Brandon Marshall from a quad injury and Reshad Jones, the free safety, from a knee injury.
Jones' injury, which kept him out all week, is the most concerning given the Dolphins' other free safety, Chris Clemons, has been hampered all season by a hamstring injury. Clemons didn't play on Monday night in the Dolphins' 24-6 defeat against the New York Jets.
The free safety position is a concern. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano and the team addressed it on Wednesday by re-signing Gerald Alexander, whom the Dolphins released before the start of the season.
"Well, we've got a couple days before we play the game so we'll see," said Sparano, whose team hosts the Denver Broncos on Sunday. "Obviously we brought Alexander on the team. There's a little concern but we'll see what happens when we get to the game."
Sparano said less about the status of Marshall and Bush, the two players the Dolphins' offense most relies upon to make plays. Though Marshall has had problems hanging onto touchdown passes, he has been by far the Dolphins' most productive receiver and has 28 catches for 422 yards.
Bush ran for 71 yards on Monday night and increased his per-carry average by nearly a whole yard, to 3.8 yards per carry. His status for Sunday has yet to be determined.
The injuries are especially disconcerting given the Dolphins' desperation for a victory. The Broncos, who are 1-4, represent the Dolphins' best opportunity yet to crack through the win column.
Without Marshall and Bush at less than 100 percent, the Dolphins' offense could suffer against a Broncos defense that ranks 24th in the NFL. And without Jones, who is doubtful, an already struggling secondary would be in a worse position to defend quarterback Tim Tebow, who'll make his first start of the season on Sunday. Tebow started the final three games in 2010 and compiled a passer rating of 82.1. He completed 50 percent of his passes and threw five touchdown passes and three interceptions.
It might not be his passing ability that concerns the Dolphins the most. Tebow, after all, is a player who can do significant damage when he escapes the pocket and goes on the run.
"Obviously he's a guy that you can't let get out of the pocket," Sparano said. "He can hurt you that way. From our end we got to try to keep him in the pocket ... the battle cry is for pass rush but (you) better be careful."
Tebow's first start of the season will coincide with the Dolphins' "Gator Day" celebration, which is honoring the 2008 University of Florida national championship team. Led by Tebow, the Gators that season defeated Oklahoma in the BCS national title game that was played at Sun Life Stadium.
Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins' rookie center who played alongside Tebow at Florida, will be recognized along with other members of the 2008 Florida championship team.
"Tebow -- he's a great player, man," Pouncey said. "I've been saying that the whole time. He's a winner. He lives right, does everything the right way. I think he's going to do a great job."
Of course, Pouncey hopes he and his teammates do a better job. It'd help if they were healthy enough to do so.
16th regular-season meeting. Dolphins lead series, 11-3-1, and have won the past two meetings between the teams. The Broncos' most recent victory against the Dolphins came in a 20-17 victory in Denver in December 2004. The Broncos have never defeated the Dolphins on the road.
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